Occidental Petroleum Corp. (Oxy) Chairman Ray Irani withdrew as a nominee to serve another term on the board of directors, and he was a no-show for the company’s annual meeting in Santa Monica, CA, on Friday (May 3), Oxy said. Edward Djerejian, a former U.S. diplomat who served as an ambassador to Israel and who is a former assistant secretary of State, is assuming the role of independent chairman. He has been an independent director since 1996. Spencer Abraham, the former secretary of Energy for President George W. Bush, was elected independent vice chairman. Irani, 78, had worked at Oxy since 1978, taking over as chairman and CEO in 1990 after founder Armand Hammer died. Irani, who had planned to retire in 2014, had turned over the CEO post two years ago to Steve Chazen, 66, who had served in the executive suite since 1994. Earlier this year Irani had attempted to oust Chazen, which led to criticism by major shareholders. However, days ago the board said Chazen would remain CEO through 2014 “with full board support.”

John H. Williams, 94, a founding leader of natural gas midstream and pipeline giant Williams, died Wednesday at his home in Linville, NC. He had worked for Williams Brothers founders Dave and Miller beginning in 1938, and 11 years later he, his brother Charlie and cousin David bought the company. John Williams served as president and CEO until 1971 and as chairman and CEO from 1971 to 1979. One of his signature achievements was the 1966 purchase of Great Lakes Pipe Line, which at the time was substantially larger than his company. In his tenure as CEO, Williams’ market value increased from $25,000 in 1949 to $406.5 million in 1978. From 1964 to 1974, the average combined return to investors ranked No. 1 among Fortune 500 companies. John Williams is survived by his wife, Joanne, and three sons. “This is a huge loss to many of us personally and certainly for our great company,” said Williams CEO Alan Armstrong. “He has been an inspiration to all who have been lucky enough to know him.”

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